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Serial XXX:
Death To The Daleks

Plot

Two ships -- one piloted by Daleks, the other by a team of humans -- crashlands on Exxilon. Both groups have come to Exxilon in search of the mineral parrinium, the only cure for a space plague which is wreaking havoc throughout the cosmos. The Doctor and Sarah discover that both parties have been mysteriously rendered powerless, meaning that the Daleks' weapons are inoperable -- and they have begun acting unusually cooperative as a result. As his oldest foes begin to show their true colours, however, the Doctor must brave the dangers of the lost city of the Exxilons in order to deliver the parrinium into the rightful hands.

Production

Doctor Who producer Barry Letts was keen to use the Daleks once again in the programme's eleventh season. Letts was aware that the venerable monsters continued to attract considerable publicity, and felt that having them appear mid-year -- as with Season Ten's Planet Of The Daleks -- would provide Doctor Who with a ratings boost. In accordance with the agreement reached between the Doctor Who production office and Dalek creator Terry Nation, Nation was given first refusal on writing the new serial, and for the second year running, he agreed to provide the scripts himself.

Nation began developing a storyline from an idea suggested by script editor Terrance Dicks. Commissioned on March 23rd, 1973, this involved an intergalactic quest to find the cure to a space plague, and a once-sophisticated society which had reverted to barbarism. Inspired by the “elixir” which was the core of the adventure, Nation gave the story the working titles “The Exilons” and then “The Exxilons” after the new aliens he had created. Robert Holmes, who was trailing Terrance Dicks in anticipation of becoming Doctor Who's new script editor, suggested that the connection between the aliens' name and the elixir (which the Exxilon city was also to have been reliant upon) was too obvious, and so this was amended to a mineral, parrinium.

It may also have been Holmes who suggested the title Death To The Daleks for Serial XXX, as he disliked the famous monsters. Several modifications were made to avoid similarities with Planet Of The Daleks: the jungle-choked Exxilon became rocky and barren, while the humans were more securely established than the hunted Thals of the previous story. Another significant change was to the climax: originally, the Daleks escaped with the cure, but the humans worked with the Exxilons to set them back on the path to advancement and were given more of the cure in return. The subterranean Exxilon Gotal was originally called Jebal. Scripts for Death To The Daleks were commissioned on July 2nd.

The story's director was Michael Briant, who had last worked on The Green Death the year before. Location filming spanned five days in November -- the 13th to the 16th, and the 19th -- at the ARC Sand Pits at Gallows Hill, Dorset which served as the surface of Exxilon. No new Dalek casings were constructed for the serial; indeed, because of the unsatisfactory quality of the new Daleks made for Planet Of The Daleks, most of those used on Death To The Daleks were casings surviving from the Sixties.

Throughout the Pertwee era, the usual studio schedule had involved two consecutive recording days every fortnight, with each day typically concentrating on completing all scenes from a single episode. Briant elected to experiment with this scheme: in order to further decrease wear and tear on the sets (the motivation behind switching from the earlier method of taping one episode every week), he decided to record material set-by-set rather than in story order. Moreover, Briant confined all recording to the second day of each two-day block, with the first day used purely for camera rehearsals.

Taping under this revised approach began on Monday, December 3rd and Tuesday the 4th in BBC Television Centre Studio 4. Unfortunately, Briant's efforts were undermined when several props and sets went missing. Furthermore, the cast found the demanding recording schedule on the Tuesday to be very exhausting -- a situation not ameliorated by Jon Pertwee's increasingly disinterested attitude toward Doctor Who. Death To The Daleks was completed exactly two weeks later, on the 17th and 18th, again in TC4.

Prior the start of studio recording, Barry Letts had made it known to the cast and crew that he had decided to leave Doctor Who following Season Eleven, his fifth on the programme. This meant that in the span of a year, three key ingredients of the series' Seventies revitalisation -- Letts, Dicks, and Katy Manning, who had played companion Jo Grant -- had elected to move on, while villainous mainstay Roger Delgado (the Master) had perished in an auto accident. Furthermore, the recurring UNIT characters -- Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart, Captain Yates and Sergeant Benton -- had been featured more and more infrequently of late. These factors, combined with his mounting boredom and chronic back pain, finally convinced Pertwee that it was time to leave Doctor Who, especially after his request for a significant raise was turned down in late 1973. After an unprecedented five years, it was once again time to search for a new Doctor...

Sources
  • Doctor Who: The Handbook: The Third Doctor by David J Howe and Stephen James Walker (1996), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 0 426 20486 7.
  • Doctor Who: The Seventies by David J Howe, Mark Stammers and Stephen James Walker (1994), Virgin Publishing, ISBN 1 85227 444 1.
  • Doctor Who Magazine #278, 2nd June 1999, “Archive: Death To The Daleks” by Andrew Pixley, Panini UK Ltd.
  • Doctor Who Magazine Special Edition #2, 5th September 2002, “The Show Must Go On” by Andrew Pixley, Panini Publishing Ltd.

Original Transmission
Episode 1
Date 23rd Feb 1974
Time 5.30pm
Duration 24'32"
Viewers (more) 8.1m (49th)
· BBC1 8.1m
Appreciation 61%
Episode 2
Date 2nd Mar 1974
Time 5.30pm
Duration 24'25"
Viewers (more) 9.5m (30th)
· BBC1 9.5m
Episode 3
Date 9th Mar 1974
Time 5.30pm
Duration 24'24"
Viewers (more) 10.5m (20th)
· BBC1 10.5m
Appreciation 61%
Episode 4
Date 16th Mar 1974
Time 5.35pm
Duration 24'35"
Viewers (more) 9.5m (21st)
· BBC1 9.5m
Appreciation 62%


Cast
Doctor Who
Jon Pertwee
Sarah Jane Smith
Elisabeth Sladen
Dan Galloway
Duncan Lamont
(more)
Richard Railton
John Abineri
Commander Stewart
Neil Seiler
Peter Hamilton
Julian Fox
Jill Tarrant
Joy Harrison
High Priest
Mostyn Evans
Dalek voices
Michael Wisher
Dalek Operators
John Scott Martin
Cy Town
Murphy Grumbar
Bellal
Arnold Yarrow
Gotal
Roy Heymann


Crew
Written by
Terry Nation
Directed by
Michael Briant
Produced by
Barry Letts
(more)

Fights arranged by
Terry Walsh
Title Music
Ron Grainer and
BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Title Sequence
Bernard Lodge
Music composed and conducted by
Carey Blyton
and played by
The London Saxophone Quartet
Special Sound
Dick Mills
Visual Effects
Jim Ward
Masks
John Friedlander
Costume Designer
L Rowland Warne
Make-Up
Magdalen Gaffney
Film Cameraman
Bill Matthews
Film Sound
Bill Chesneau
Film Editor
Bob Rymer
Studio Lighting
Derek Slee
Studio Sound
Richard Chubb
Script Editor
Terrance Dicks
Designer
Colin Green


Working Titles
The Exilons
The Exxilons


Media
DVD Release
Doctor Who: Death To The Daleks (2012)
Buy: Canada · UK · USA
Novelisation
Doctor Who: Death To The Daleks by Terrance Dicks (1978)

Updated 30th April 2012